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# Getting the Odds on Your Side at Baccarat

21 July 1997

Want an easy way to get the odds working for you in the casino? Try baccarat. Or mini-baccarat, which is the same game.

I'll cite six simple baccarat strategies favoring bettors over bosses. Wagers that win more often than they lose. But, don't mortgage the farm yet. These aren't secrets casinos don't want you to know. Sitting pretty has a price. Sometimes a high price.

1) Bet on Banker. Of hands which don't "push," Banker should win 50.66 percent - a bit over half - and lose 49.34 percent. The catch? The casino takes a fee, normally 5 percent of the proceeds. Per dollar bet, winners get only \$0.95. The commission gives the house a moderately-low statistical edge, 1.21 percent.

2) Bet on Banker with side action on Tie. Chances of winning on Banker can be enhanced with an auxiliary bet on Tie. Say, \$2 on Tie for \$10 on Banker. Banker should come through on 45.8 percent of these combined wagers. When it does, bettors net \$7.50 - \$9.50 for the \$10 on Banker minus \$2 on Tie. Tie should occur on 9.6 percent of these joint wagers. When it does, profit is \$16 for the 8-to-1 payoff on Tie with no action on Banker. In all, the linked bet should win 55.4 percent of the time, yielding \$7.50 or \$16. The downside? Losses, whose probability is 44.6 percent, cost \$12. And house edge is 3.2 percent.

3) Bet on Player with side action on Tie. Augmenting Player with Tie can shift odds to favor bettors. Assume \$10 on Player and \$2 on Tie. Player should hit 44.6 percent of these wagers, netting \$10 minus \$2 or \$8. Tie, with 9.6 percent chance, yields \$16. The combination should therefore win 54.2 percent of the time and return either \$8 or \$16. The bad news? Losses, with 45.8 percent likelihood, cost \$12. And edge is 3.3 percent.

4) Group bets on Banker into five-hand rounds, doubling after every loss until a win occurs or the fifth wager goes down. Bettors have 97.1 percent chance of winning each round, while house edge is a mere 1.21 percent. The drawback? Earnings of 20 to 95 percent of the initial wager for losses 31 times this base. Starting at \$10, this means risking \$310 to make \$2 to \$9.50.

5) Group bets on Player into five-hand rounds, doubling after every loss until a win occurs or the fifth wager goes down. Here, bettors have a 96.7 of winning each round, with house edge of only 1.32 percent. The flaw? Profits equal to the initial bet for losses 31 times as high. For example, risking \$310 to earn \$10.

6) Group bets on Tie into eight-hand rounds, repeating after every loss until a win occurs or the eighth wager goes down. This sequence offers a 55.4 percent chance of earning from one to eight times the per-hand bet. The price? A 44.6 percent chance of an eight-unit loss, with house edge usurious at 13.6 percent.

These strategies yield favorable odds of modest wins, leveraged against lower chances of higher losses. Single wagers on Banker, giving bettors slightly over 50-50 chance, return \$0.95 per \$1 ventured and have only 1.21 percent house edge. The alternatives shift odds of winning further toward the bettor, but have higher house edges or greater disparities between reward and risk.

The appeal of these approaches depends on each individual's gambling goals. Would you like a small win and will you be happy to quit with a modest profit? Then strategies of this type may be appropriate. Will you only be satisfied with a big score? Then this mode of gambling will not meet your needs because you'll accumulate winnings slowly and will probably keep playing until you encounter one of those infrequent but large losses.

Either way, you can see that there's more to gambling than dumb luck or the conviction held by many solid citizens that bettors can't win because the bosses always have the odds. Sumner A Ingmark, whose poems have inspired many players, once wrote:

Though gambling systems I espouse,
Aren't guaranteed to beat the house,
They furnish me with some controls,
To better help me meet my goals.

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Best of Alan Krigman
Alan Krigman

Alan Krigman was a weekly syndicated newspaper gaming columnist and Editor & Publisher of Winning Ways, a monthly newsletter for casino aficionados. His columns focused on gambling probability and statistics. He passed away in October, 2013.
Alan Krigman
Alan Krigman was a weekly syndicated newspaper gaming columnist and Editor & Publisher of Winning Ways, a monthly newsletter for casino aficionados. His columns focused on gambling probability and statistics. He passed away in October, 2013.